Low SES students and the Group of Eight

According to a report in today’s Australian, the

Group of Eight research universities are tough institutions for disadvantaged students to get into, but they are not, according to a surprising new study, the toughest of the lot: that dubious honour goes to the University of Canberra.

Of course, the University of Canberra is not especially tough for anyone to get into. You can do a Bachelor of Business at the University of Canberra on an ENTER/UAI of 65. It charges the same prices as any other university for a Commonwealth-supported place. The reason it has few low SES students is that low SES is defined as being in the bottom 25% of Australian postcodes according to an index of education and occupation, and Canberra being full of university-educated professionals working in the public service it has no such postcodes. No matter how poor you are, if you live in the ACT you are not ‘low SES’ by this measure.

For the Group of Eight (the ANU aside), locational issues are less important than academic issues. Relatively few people from low SES backgrounds get the scores needed to go to these universities. From research I have seen on Victorian and NSW universities, the Group of Eight get the vast majority of the small number of people from low SES postcodes with strong results. But because they are few in number, they are not a large percentage of all Group of Eight enrolments.
Continue reading “Low SES students and the Group of Eight”